Dublin has seen some huge changes in the restaurants scene in the last couple of years and not just with the explosion of eateries but also with the choice on offer. No better example of change than Pichet on Dublin’s Trinity Street, with colossal transformation and upheaval in it’s front of house and management over the last eighteen months. Since opening it’s doors in 2009 Pichet has won many diners over but with the recent shift in direction we were eager to see if it still has it’s “je ne sais quoi“.
One thing that has not altered in the restaurant is Head Chef/PartOwner Stephen Gibson’s focus on the food. The now legendary blue leather chairs still remain and are still just as comfortable as ever, however tonight we are greeted by an unknown but welcoming face. It’s a busy Friday night and the place is already almost full. As we walk by the kitchen pass it is hard to miss the pretty senior sous chef Grainne O’Keefe intensively plating up. One of the big drivers of Pichet’s success is the quality of cooking and the calibre of chefs working here, with many from five star backgrounds or Michelin starred kitchens. Stephen has been openly passionate about the fact he has no interest in the elusive star or mad textures and edgy dishes. Instead what you will find here is solid, high calibre cooking and dishes that taste damn good.
The menu has hints of french elegance but with a modern Irish twist, the Castletownbere Scallops with mushrooms a la Greque (€15) are a perfect case in point. Feeling like the dish encompassed this we ordered away. Before a morsel even touched our lips the presentation alone was enough to get us salivating. Three plump scallops arrived to the table housed in perfect shells on a little bed of sea weed; tiny mushrooms and exquisite little chunks of crispy pancetta, topped with a frothy garlic potato mousseline. A seemingly simple, yet inventive dish and a signal that standards are at an all time high.
Unfortunately no other dish stood a chance of selection against the Black Pudding Scotch Egg (€10.50), if you have never been to Pichet this is what we would describe as a signature dish of Stephens. Creative and oozing (pardon the pun) with flavour, crispy breadcrumbs concealed the superb pudding and egg mixture, add in the brown sauce and red cabbage slaw and you’ll find it hard to find any fault in this plate.
Mains were a more difficult one to nail down with dishes like Monkfish Tail (€26) and the Spring Lamb with polenta chips (€24) all equally tempting. Our witty waiter on the night Lee swayed us towards the Lobster Burger (€24) in the end, assuring us that is wasn’t too large a portion. One thing is for sure you will not leave hungry after this. Expertly seasoned salt and pepper batter encased the soft shellfish, piled proudly on a delicious slaw and smothered in a tasty tarragon sauce. Make no mistake this is no ordinary burger!
The John Stone Butchers Secret (€25) is the type of dish that every one will love. The secret being that the succulent cut is just in between the sirloin and the fillet, giving the meat not only a delectable tenderness but also a lot of flavour. Throw in a buttery bernaise sauce and crispy fries and you have a clear winner and a classic french staple. Our bottle of Gitton Pere & Fils Sancere was really better suited to the lobster but was so beautifully balanced we barely even noticed.
They say that even the worst of meals can be rescued by a good dessert, but can a good meal be ruined by a bad one? Thankfully neither was the case on the night, after scoffing on the lobster we just about had enough room for one and the Lemon Meringue (€8) sounded just the ticket. A soft caramel crusted biscuit base helped support our little leaning tower of lemon Pisa. The soft meringues and fresh raspberries married well with the lemon but the raspberry sorbet stole the show.
All in all it appears that are exciting times ahead for Pichet and it is quite easy to see why this is still one of the city’s most popular restaurants, with fantastic, experienced staff out front and such a committed team behind the pass it seems ready to embrace the next chapter and keep the focus on what really counts – the food.
Our bill came to €142 including wine and a large sparkling water.
14/15 Trinity Street
T: 01 677 1060
Keith & Jules Mahon are the founders of TheTaste. We want TheTaste to be a culinary kaleidoscope to champion every taste, food, wine, cocktails, whiskey, etc. We are delighted to be part of such a creative and fast moving industry and are very passionate about sharing with you our unique journey around Ireland finding the best culinary hotspots.